No prom, no problem for our intrepid respondent in Act III. However, if war time fundraising dance idea, hit a snag when KIP the Italian fraternity wanted to co-sponsor a dance with OD, the Jewish fraternity.  Unheard of!  We they able to have it? Read and find out.

December 7, 1941, the “day that will live in infamy,” marked the US entrance into World War II. On December 8, the US Congress formally declared War on Japan in response to its attack on Pearl Harbor. Within days, Germany and Italy declared war on the US, enmeshing the US fully into World War II.

New Haven High School students were fully impacted. Young men enlisted to serve their nation, some before they finished high school. Several local fraternities lost so many members, that they decolonized.  And in 1943, the yearly prom was suspended: the topic of this installment of “Italian Americans at Hillhouse.” While this is the shortest act of the play, please notice the “shake up” in the normal protocol. Rather than remaining within their groups, the KIP’s decided to pair up with a Jewish fraternity.

So, check it out!

The above video is also linked to YouTube. If you go there, please like and subscribe.  

Seventy years later, the Hillhouse’s 1943 Class President, Tony Pegnataro organized their prom, at last. The prom made national news.

And it even deserved a mention in the Antarctica Journal.  (Hey, who gave that report a 3 out of 5?)

My aunt graduated in 1943, and lent me her yearbook for this project. Foremost in her mind when I told her of my research aim was that they “didn’t have a prom.” I thought of the Hillhouse class of 1943 a lot during COVID times when graduating seniors of the class of 2020 had to forego so many of the normal graduation activities, including their prom. For many, such sacrifices seemed trivial.  After all COVID was killing people in the thousands. But if the class of 1943 is any indication, missing one’s prom is a significant milestone in many a young life, at least in the US. 

Maybe the class of 2020 will gather together in 70 years and have the time of their lives.  

PS. The photo on the video is the famous Soldiers and Sailors monument at the top of East Rock.  I remember its beacon of light shining over all of us.



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